The last few days of February in Arkansas have offered temperatures in the upper 70s and plenty of vitamin D. March, however, is a notoriously finicky month, and rain is forecast for Thursday in many parts of the state. Nonetheless, athletes across Arkansas will lace up their spikes this week and take to the track for their first outdoor meets. Reflecting on the results from the 2022 Arkansas high school outdoor track and field season, a short indoor season, and promising prospects, we now preview some of the athletes, events, and meets to watch in the coming months in the 4A division.
Athletes to Watch
Anna Woolsey (Sr, Ozark HS): Woolsey rides a strong wave of momentum into the 2023 outdoor season. At the State Indoor Championship Meet in Fayetteville on February 18th, Woolsey convincingly won three 4A sprinting events: the 60m dash (7.78), 200m dash (25.20), and 400m dash (56.84). That 400 was the fastest overall, while the other two results were second fastest. Her sprinting prowess projects very well on the outdoor oval, and she will even aim to compete in the heptathlon on May 17-18.
Kneila Watson (Jr, LISA Academy North HS): Don't assume that Woolsey will cruise to easy sprint victories, though; another top runner in the three sprinting events is junior Kneila Watson, who can go under 12.7 in the 100m, sub-26 in the 200m, and sub-60 in the 400m.
Cade Mann (Sr, Pea Ridge HS): The do-it-all athlete from Pea Ridge looks to finish his high school career with success in a variety of events, including the decathlon. He figures to do especially well in the 200m and 400m dashes, where his fastest respective times of 22.70 and 49.86 land him at or near the top in 4A.
Matthew Dunsworth (Sr, Clarksville HS): Positioned very well to defend his 2022 outdoor state championships is Clarksville's Matthew Dunsworth. The senior will look to build off of his 1600m PR of 4:30.96 and 3200m PR of 9:40.69 (both of which took place at the RunningLane Track Championships on May 27-28) and put even more distance between himself and his closest 4A competition.
Events To Watch
Girls' 3200m Run: Out are 2022 graduates Elise Knight (Valley View HS) and Chloe Weathers (Clarksville HS), who went 1-2 in the 4A state meet last Spring. In are juniors Zoe Williamson (Harding Academy HS) and Maddie Cabana (Clinton HS), who, thanks to realignment, bring top finishes from 3A to the 4A scene this Spring. Cabana took the gold in 3A (12:15.22, with a PR of 11:58.47), but Williamson's spacious 4A win at the Indoor State Meet on February 18th (11:50.38) suggests that she is poised to challenge Cabana. Also keep an eye on Arkadelphia senior Emilia Eriksson, the top 4A returner in the event (12:10.04).
Girls' High Jump: The 4A girls' high jump features at least three women who have cleared 5 feet: freshmen Lilly Lunsford of Gravette HS (5-04.00) and Elliot Dugan of Mena HS (5-00.00), and senior Jaylea Hooten of Heber Springs (5-02.00). With 2022 4A state winner Clare Barger of Harrison HS (5-04.00) moving up to 5A, the space atop the podium is up for grabs.
Boys' 3200m Run: The top three finishers from last year's state championship run are back for more: the aforementioned senior Matthew Dunsworth of Clarksville HS (9.58.40) and brothers Grandon Grant (10:06.00), a senior, and Tian Grant (10:12.07), a junior, of Pea Ridge HS. These three may be challenged by senior Juan Maldonado of DeQueen HS (10:11.88 PR), and all four men are also projected highly in the 1600m.
Boys' Horizontal Jumps: The horizontal jumps (long and triple jump) in boys' 4A will feature plenty of returning talent. In both jumps, watch Magnolia HS junior Malvin Cross, Heber Springs HS junior Parker Brown, Farmington HS senior Josh Blakley, and Waldron HS junior Joseph Rogers. In the long jump, watch Gravette HS freshman Kayden Brown, Waldron HS sophomore Gabe Nevills, and 2022 4A outdoor champ Crossett HS junior Taylin Paskel. In the triple jump, watch Southside-Batesville HS junior Savion Hall and 2022 4A outdoor champ Forrest City HS junior Kyman Lee. Look for both Hall and Blakley in the high jump, as well.
- Mena High School Relays @ Mena HS - 3/9/23
- Ashdown Panther/Domtar Relays @ Ashdown HS - 3/16/23
- Pea Ridge Blackhawk Relays @ Pea Ridge HS - 4/6/23
- Gravette Lion Invitational @ Gravette HS - 4/13/23
- 4A State Championship @ Clarksville HS - 5/2/23
- Arkansas Meet of Champions @ Russellville HS - 5/10/23